Friday, March 19, 2010

Boot the boots? Never!

In the movie Little Man Tate, Jody Foster plays a blue color single mother raising a child prodigy.  For some reason this movie makes me cry harder than any other.  And I'm including Beaches, Steel Magnolias, Terms of Endearment and many other classic tear jerkers.  Nothing gets me like the scene in this movie where the mother, who is determined to give her seven year old boy-genius a "normal" life, throws him a birthday party.  She invites everyone in his class.  They decorate their apartment with streamers and balloons and the mother and son put on party hats.  They wait, and wait, and wait, and NO ONE shows up.  The boy is devastated and it just kills me.  That scene makes me want to jump into the film and give the kid a hug.

So imagine how I reacted on Tuesday afternoon when GJ, my own flesh and blood son, came home from school to report, for the first time, that he had been teased at school.  He was left all alone at recess.  The two boys he usually plays with were calling GJ names and leaving him out.  When recounting the tale to me, GJ  kept saying that recess was 25 minutes long.  He must have been counting down each second of this terrible experience.  I wanted to do physical harm to the boys who hurt my poor baby's feelings.   

And hurting GJ's feelings isn't easy to do.  He has an ego of steal.  He really does.  It can be hilarious and even disturbing sometimes.  For example, he stood on the sofa several weeks ago with a wound yo-yo.  He poked his middle finger through the string loop and dropped the yo-yo.  It just dangled there on the end of its string, swaying back and forth a little.  GJ tried to get the yo-yo to roll back up the string to him, but it would not respond.  Nevertheless, GJ looked over at me and said sincerely, "I am SO good at yo-yoing."  I couldn't help but laugh.  I want to be an encouraging parent who instills confidence in her children, but one must be in touch with reality.  I couldn't let this one slide by so we chatted about what good yo-yoing looks like and the importance of practice to getting good at something.  The point of this tangential yo-yo story?  It was especially tragic to see GJ feeling hurt and small. 

Later the night of the recess incident, after more gentle probing for the full story, I learned that the teasing began because of GJ's rain boots.  It's early Spring in Vermont (otherwise known as mud season) and on the morning of the teasing it was rainy and wet.   The kids decided to get their rain boots out of the closet and wear them to school instead of their snow boots.  GJ's have green airplanes on them. They're cute.  Maybe that was the problem.

I thought about the boots and wondered, "is this my fault?"  Are GJ's boots lame?  In case the objective answer to these questions was an affirmative one, I offered to GJ that he didn't have to wear his rain boots to school the next day.  He looked at me funny and said, "But I like them."  We left it at that.

The next morning, I watched GJ get ready for school. He packed his backpack and put on his coat while still wearing just socks on his feet.  He glanced at the rain boots a few times.  Then he said, "These are comfortable.  I am wearing these."  And that was the end of that.

I felt so proud of him for sticking to his guns, for deciding to wear what he pleases no matter what his friends think.  I felt bad that I'd nearly taught him to cave to peer pressure by offering alternative footwear. I just couldn't bear the idea of him taking heat for those boots again.  It turns out that GJ suffered one more day, proudly wore his boots again, and on the third day in his rain boots he was accepted back into the group. 

Here is a picture of the boots.  Are they lame for a first grader?  I'm just wondering....

1 comment:

  1. all that matters is what GJ thinks. sounds like he thinks they are fine.